Winners and Heroes…



In last week’s post, I listed the winners of the Newbery and Caldecott awards, the best known of the nearly 20 awards presented during the recent American Library Association meeting.


The Newbery Medal was awarded to Kelly Barnhill for her fantasy novel, The Girl Who Drank the Moon. Because I haven’t read it (it’s on the list!), here is the School Library Journal review:

“Once a year in the Protectorate there is a Day of Sacrifice. The youngest baby is taken by the Elders and left in the forest to die, thus appeasing the witch who threatens to destroy the village if not obeyed. Unbeknownst to the people, Xan, the witch of the forest, is kind and compassionate. When she discovers the first baby left as a sacrifice, she has no idea why it has been abandoned. She rescues the infants, feeds each one starlight, and delivers the shining infants to parents in the Outside Cities who love and care for them. On one occasion, Xan accidentally feeds a baby moonlight along with starlight, filling her with glowing magic. Xan is smitten with the beautiful baby girl, who has a crescent moon birthmark on her forehead, and chooses to raise her as her own child. Twists and turns emerge as the identity of the true evil witch becomes apparent. The swiftly paced, highly imaginative plot draws a myriad of threads together to form a web of characters, magic, and integrated lives. Spiritual overtones encompass much of the storytelling with love as the glue that holds it all together. An expertly woven and enchanting offering for readers who love classic fairy tales.”

I know several Inly students who are going to love this book – it will be gobbled up by our 5th and 6th grade students who come into the library looking for the next fantasy.  Just this week, a student asked if I had any new “magical stories.”  I will give Barnhill’s novel to her first!


The Newbery Honor book that I’m most excited about is Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk.  I read Wolk’s debut novel this past summer and wondered then if it would ultimately have a a shiny gold sticker. The story of a young girl growing up in Pennsylvania during WWII, Wolf Hollow addresses serious issues: kindness and empathy, cruelty and racism.  It is one of those books that when you close it, your first thought is how to get it into the hands of every young reader you know.  It seems especially urgent now with it’s focus on the consequences of fearing people who are different.


The winner of the Caldecott Medal is Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat by Javaka Steptoe, a picture book biography of the 1980s graffiti artist.  Steptoe’s pictures, like his subject’s, are bold and vibrant.  Steptoe uses found objects to create his collages of Basquiat’s life – from his childhood in Brooklyn to his more mature political art.

This is a perfect picture book for kids between the ages of 6 to 9 – at the age when they begin to look more critically at their art work. Steptoe’s book belongs in the collection of every elementary school art teacher so they can show it to kids who are frustrated when their drawing doesn’t turn out the way they hoped. Basquiat – and Steptoe – show that although it can be “sloppy, ugly, and sometimes weird, but somehow still beautiful.”  To be honest, I don’t think it’s the kind of book most kids will find on their own.  It’s a book for teachers, parents, and art teachers to put in a child’s hands.


The Caldecott Honor book that kids definitely find on their own is Leave Me Alone! by Vera Brosgol. We’ve already read it to most of our classes, and the kids – and adults – love it.  It’s the story of a grandmother who wants some quiet time to knit 30 sweaters for her 30 grandchildren, but every time she finds the perfect spot, there is something (or a group of somethings) that interrupt her.  Ultimately, she goes all the way to the moon to find quiet, but of course, there are green aliens on the moon! Brosgol’s book has the look and tone of a traditional folk tale, but this is her first picture book after her graphic novel debut, Anya’s Ghost. 

Every year Inly has a school-wide learning fair during which students present a project based on the year’s curricular focus.  This year, an American history year, everyone in kindergarten through 8th grade made a hero box, and on Friday the boxes lined the hallways for halls for parents and students to enjoy.  Here are some of my favorites….




And an especially wonderful tribute to author Jacqueline Woodson, author of Brown Girl Dreaming, among other books for young readers…



One more thing…..I looked outside the library this week and saw this wonderful scene:


This is one of our Upper Elementary classes enjoying a sunny afternoon and a big window to talk about the book they are reading: The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg by Rodman Philbrick, a 2010 Newbery Honor Book!

Happy Reading…..




3 thoughts on “Winners and Heroes…

  1. The Girl Who Drank the Moon is so good! Also, for those 5th and 6th grade girls looking for “stories with magic,” Siren Sisters (Simon&Schuster) had a starred review in School Library Journal this month, and my students are loving it. ( (Full disclosure, my sister happens to be the author, but it’s getting great reviews, so I feel like I can recommend it objectively 🙂

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